By Shannon H
Suffice it to say that there is a new TENGEN TOPPEN GURREN LAGANN book out this week and I’m super-dooper excited about it! Why, you may ask? Well, obviously because TTGL is freaking awesome, and also because its manga adaptation, amazingly enough, doesn’t suck chunks, as most adaptations of pretty much anything tend to do. Really, that’s probably just an aspect of being made by GAINAX, as TTGL is one of the latest offerings from the studio of Evangelion and FLCL fame. For reasons that will quickly become obvious the second you start watching it, TTGL quickly moved into the winner’s circle of insta-classics, and definitely helped revitalize the then-sagging anime industry. Oh, what’s that? I’m sorry, you want me to tell you the reasons that TTGL is so great before you start it? What, you think my word isn’t good enough to send you dashing to the shelves? You worry you might be wasting your time with a show you might not like? Oh, ye of little faith, what am I going to do with you?
Well, reason number one is pretty obvious: hot, curvy babes in booty shorts and tiny tops that are bursting with the famous GAINAX jiggle. Also the fact that Kamina, King of the Bros (TM), is probably the coolest character to star in a show since Spike Spiegal, and that’s no lie. Considering that he’s really only there for the first eight episodes or so before making a dramatic exit, he still manages to dominate the TTGL fanbase, perhaps even more so than his red-haired, bikini-top wearing sidekick, Yoko. And she has boobs, man. BOOBS. I mean, TTGL is probably about the manliest, chest-bumpingest anime ever, so what else would you expect, I suppose.
Beyond that, though, TTGL also has a lot of heart, and that’s what keeps us invested in the story at the end of the day. Despite all the giant robots fighting each other, the mutant, weird animals and beastmen running amok, galaxies being hurled across space, and drills of all shapes and sizes, Gurren Lagann is the story of a shy little boy and the trials and tribulations of growing up, of what it takes to really become a man. We see these struggles through the eyes of Simon, an orphan boy who looks up to Kamina as his big bro. Together, they live in a village underground, as most humans in this unnamed era do, but Kamina is determined that there is a better life on the surface, the place where his father ventured back when Kamina was small. Of course everyone thinks that Kamina is just a naive dreamer spouting out idiocies like, ‘Believe in me who believes in you!’ or ‘Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!’ That is until a giant ganman (the name for the robots in TTGL) that is being pursued by hotpants Yoko falls from above and reveals the blue sky Kamina keeps talking about, thus beginning their adventures.
But complexities lie in the relationships between Yoko, Kamina and Simon. Yoko starts to feel affection for over-the-top Kamina, and comes to treat Simon like a little bro of her own. But Simon misinterprets this affection and develops a crush on Yoko without realizing the true nature of her feelings, which sets up for a climatic disappointment later on. But through this love triangle, we see Simon grow in a far more satisfying way than Evangelion’s Shinji Ikari. Simon learns the effects of jealousy and resentment first hand, what it means to truly be a leader, and the various packages that love comes wrapped in.
Remember, all the lights in the sky are stars! Just who the hell do you think we are!?
PS: And once you’re on board with TTGL, look up Captain Osaka’s hilarious fan comic based on the series, Double K. It’s easy to find online and so epic, with really fun, unique drawings, a great concept (Kamina and Kittan as buddy cops!), and a sense of humour that is ALWAYS on point.
PPS: FP fujoushi: don’t forget to check out the yaoi shelf this week, because there is a great selection of beautifully illustrated new books! In particular, there’s some great stuff by Akira Minazuki in print in English for the first time, so be sure to get your hands on it before it’s all gone!